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Claude C. Vache

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Claude C. Vaché PORTSMOUTH - The Right Rev. Claude Charles Vaché died Nov. 1, 2009. Born Aug. 4, 1926, in New Bern, N.C., Bishop Vaché was the son of the Rev. Jean Andrew Vaché and Edith Fitzwilson Vaché. Bishop Vaché served in the U.S. Navy during the closing years of World War II and later received his bachelor's degree with honors from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He attended Seabury- Western Theological Seminary from the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, earning his Master of Divinity degree cum laude, and began ordained ministry June 11, 1953, in this diocese as deacon-in-charge and later rector of St. Michael's Church, Bon Air, during which time he also served as chaplain to St. Christopher's School, Richmond, and was recognized as Chesterfield County's Young Man of the Year. In 1957, Charles Vaché was called to be rector of Trinity Church, Portsmouth, where he served both the parish and the city with great distinction. He wrote a history of Portsmouth Parish and opened his home, hearth, and cupboards to mostly military men who became known as the Rectory Rogues. Charles Vaché offered exemplary leadership to the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia as a member of the executive board, chairman of the Department of College Work, member and president of the Standing Committee, member and chairman of the Board of Examining Chaplains, chairman of the Commission on Ministry, frequent deputy to General Convention, and original board member of Westminster-Canterbury of Hampton Roads, of whose foundation he was later elected trustee. Charles Vaché was elected and consecrated bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia in 1976 and became its diocesan bishop in 1978. He was known for his pastoral availability, sound learning and fair judgment and for his willingness - shaped through persevering prayer - to change his views on difficult issues such as the ordination of women. Bishop Vaché served the Episcopal Church as member and chairman of the Church Deployment Office Board, member of the Standing Committee on Ecumenical Relations, and the Committee on Pastoral Development, and member and chairman of the North American Regional Committee of St. George's College, Jerusalem. Bishop Vaché was honored as a fellow of the College of Preachers and as a Doctor of Divinity by Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Virginia Theological Seminary, and St. Paul's College. After his retirement as diocesan bishop in 1991, Bishop Vaché spent 15 months in Jerusalem as a volunteer for mission, serving as chaplain at St. George's College, and later served nine months as acting dean of St. George's Cathedral, subsequently bearing public criticism for his advocacy for the Palestinian people. After a brief retirement, Bishop Vaché accepted a call to serve as assisting bishop in the Diocese of East Carolina from 1993 to 1996 where he developed guidelines and procedures and training for the prevention of sexual misconduct. Bishop Vaché served as interim rector of Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg, from 1996 to 1999 bringing his wisdom, experience, and healing gifts to that parish. Charles Vaché accepted a call to serve as assisting bishop in the Diocese of West Virginia from 2000 to 2001 during a difficult time in its history, and he served as the interim rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Norfolk from 2003 to 2004. Bishop Vaché was a man of deep faith and prayer, broad learning and diligent labor, gentleness in strength, compassion and humility, and playful spirit. He was, a faithful pastor, wise mentor, learned teacher, gracious colleague, servant leader, and loyal friend. Bishop Vaché is survived by his sister, Edith "Che" Spurlin; his nieces and nephews, Bridget, Peter, Andrew, Lynn, Michael, Sherry, and Laurie; and his faithful foster son, Val de France. A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 6, in Trinity Episcopal Church, Portsmouth. Loving Funeral Home, Churchland Chapel, is handling the arrangements and online condolences may be made at www.loving funeralhome.com.

Published in The Virginian Pilot on Nov. 4, 2009
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